Economic development doesn’t just mean property (part 2)


By - Wednesday 5th February, 2014

In part two of Sean Creighton’s look into the local economy, he explores the ideas of the  Centre for Local Economic Studies


Image by CJ Isherwood and used under Creative Commons licence.

I decided to write about the fragility of the property industry after reading an article in the Evening Standard by Anthony Hilton. In this article I will be taking a closer look at the alternative economic ideas from the Centre for Local Economic Studies and how they could benefit Croydon.

The local economy consists of the commercial, public and social sectors. A key question to be asked here in Croydon is how do each of these sectors relate to each other? The Centre for Local Economic Studies notes:

  • “The strength of the commercial economy is defined as economic wealth creation generated by businesses that are privately owned and profit motivated”
  • “The public economy consists of services delivered on behalf of government organisations whether national, regional or local, and funded by the public purse”
  • “The social economy embraces a wide range of community, voluntary and not-for-profit activities that try to bring about positive local change”

There are also other issues that inter-relate: health and wellbeing, environmental limits, local identity, history and context, governance. Local health and wellbeing issues include ill health, quality of life, travel to work and leisure patterns, and the economic geography of the area. To what extent has the climate change agenda been integrated through mitigation and adaptation strategies into the local economy? To what extent has Croydon been shaped by and managed its identity, history and culture? How does national and local governance affect the local economic territory?

How does Croydon match up to CLES’s suggestions of components that make for a resilient economy? In a report published in 2010, Productive local economies: creating resilient places listed the following factors: a thriving community and voluntary sector, strong civic engagement, strong public sector, a diverse finance sector, high levels of diversity in the economy, effective public services, closer integration of land use planning with economic development and stronger provision for young people. We need to have an independent analysis of the Croydon economy from these perspectives. 

Another important element of the local economy is the social sector, which I will discuss in Part 3.

Sean Creighton

Sean Creighton

A former employee of and freelance project worker with community and voluntary organisations, Sean is active with Croydon Assembly and with the Planning and Transport Committee of the Love Norbury group of residents associations. He is Chair of the Norbury Community Land Trust. He is a historian of Croydon and South-West London, British black society, social action and the labour movement. He coordinates the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History networks. He runs blog sites covering Croydon, Norbury and history events, issues and news. He runs a small scale publishing imprint called History & Social Action Publications. He gives talks on a range of history topics and leads history walks.

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